Dr. Eftichios Van Vlahakis (1935-2014)
Dr. Eftichios Van Vlahakis, founder and CEO of Earth Friendly Products, passed away this past April in Key Largo, Florida. Born on the Greek island of Crete in 1935, Van endured the hardships of German occupation during World War II. With resolve in his heart and $20 in his pocket, he left war-torn Greece in 1953 and emigrated to Chicago, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Roosevelt University. After several years working as a chemist, Van started his own cleaning products company, Venus Laboratories in 1967. Inspired to create safer, greener cleaning products, he launched Earth Friendly Products in 1989. Van was an extraordinary visionary who dedicated his life to creating a healthier, more sustainable world, for which he was granted an honorary doctorate from Roosevelt University in 2012. With an indomitable spirit and exceptional generosity, he fulfilled the quintessential American dream, inspiring everyone he touched to dream bigger.
Van’s joy for life was legendary. He loved boating, scuba diving, traveling, Greek music, old movies, and above all spending time with his family. While Van left us too soon, he also left us with his rich legacy of generosity, compassion and dedication to protecting our precious planet. Van’s influence was larger than life and his passion will live on within the hearts of his family, employees and friends.
He is survived by his children John E. Vlahakis (Stephanie Anton Vlahakis), Elli Manolas (John Manolas), Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks (Eric Hanks); and by his grandchildren Alexandra Vlahakis, Ian Vlahakis, Zachary Vlahakis, Nicole Manolas, Stacy Manolas, Kasia Manolas and Alexia Hanks. He is also survived by cousins, nephews and nieces, all of whom will miss him dearly.